CRG Architects unveils concept for shipping container skyscrapers

| 31 comments

CRG Architects has unveiled a proposal to replace slum housing with a pair of skyscrapers comprising stacks of brightly coloured shipping containers

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CRG Architects, which has offices in China and Nigeria, came up with the concept for Container Skyscraper to provide temporary accommodation to replace slum housing in developing countries.

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The firm proposes that recycled shipping containers could be stacked to create high-density, cost-effective housing in urban areas – building on a string of inventive proposals for the storage structures from architects and designers, varying from a cross-shaped micro home to a fan-like photography studio.

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"Cities are facing unprecedented demographic, environmental, economic, social and spatial challenges," said architect Carlos Gomez.

"There has been a phenomenal shift towards urbanisation, with six out of every 10 people in the world expected to reside in urban areas by 2030."

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"In the absence of effective urban planning, the consequences of this rapid urbanisation will be dramatic," Gomez added. "In many places around the world, the effects can already be felt."

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Approximately 2,500 containers would be needed to complete the proposed scheme, which could house up to 5,000 people, according to the architects.



The steel containers would be supported by a concrete structure and arranged with their edges overlapping to create two cylindrical towers – one measuring 400 metres in height and the other 200 metres.

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"The maximum number of stacking containers one above the other is nine units," explained Gomez. "It means we need a main structure to support them if we want to have such height."

By pivoting the containers to create a building with a hollow centre, windows would face away from neighbours and maximise views of the city.

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The architects propose that a single unit could be subdivided to provide a studio flat, while up to three containers could be joined to provide a three-bedroom family residence.

Columns of vertically stacked containers in the core of the towers would house an elevator, while empty containers could be used for circulation and vertical gardens as well as medical services, schools, entertainment areas and small markets.

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Service pipes and cabling would be threaded through the existing cavities in the base designed for to allow the lifting of the containers with forklift trucks. Gaps between the structures would provide natural ventilation.



The towers feature a red, yellow, green and blue colour scheme. The blocks of colours are intended to represent the hottest and coldest parts of the building, with red containers placed on the south facade, blue on the north, and green and yellow on the east and west faces to show the transition in temperature.

Container Skyscraper, Mumbai by CRG Architects

The concept was the runner up in a Mumbai housing competition. CRG Architects is in discussion with humanitarian organisations to investigate its application elsewhere.

Renderings are by EAFIE.

Container Skyscraper, Mumbai by CRG Architects
Stacking arrangement diagram
Container Skyscraper, Mumbai by CRG Architects
Apartment typology plans – click for larger image
Container Skyscraper, Mumbai by CRG Architects
Sections – click for larger image
  • davidlomax

    Hello. Standard shipping containers can only be stacked on the vertical corner posts unless an independent steel frame is provided. Start again please.

  • joe the nice guy

    Are you telling me that bridge entrance to my apartment is more square meters than my apartment? Why not have just one or two bridges per floor? What’s the use of internal space? Structure of tower is conventional as any other skyscraper, only instead of a curtain wall you stack boxes.

    Sweet, but still unaffordable and pointless really. Also, doesn’t save space because of a large void inside. Not talking about colours, but keep on doing what you’re doing. :)

    • Augusto Quepe

      I agree this hollow inside is bigger than apartments, but it can help ventilation too. Maybe with less floor and less apartment per floor it can be an acceptable idea.

  • Rob Brink

    From the viewpoint of increasing density and improving housing quality this sounds like a fast solution to a growing problem. But looking at it from a wider perspective, the real problem with slums is the lack of good sanitary infrastructure, as well as the lack of mobility, public transport and community services such as schools and healthcare etcetera.

    This project does not offer solutions to these problems. In my opinion, slums are informal communities with an informal economy and services, which could develop the needed infrastructure and services if they would be taken out of the illegal zone. Next to that, empowering the people in these slums can and should also be achieved by connections to workplaces and services on a regional scale, in order to take full advantage of the urban situation.

  • Kevin McGrath

    This should have been scrapped after five minutes. Change the title to “CRG Architects unveils embarrassing concept for shipping container skyscraper”. It doesn’t work on so many levels, not even a bad joke. Pretty colours though.

  • SteveLeo

    Please stop building 3D-rendered models of shipping containers doing things that shipping containers cannot do.

    • Michael Battaglia

      But it’s sooo much funnnnnnnn!!!

  • Lovds

    Maybe a basic understanding of point loading might help to explain why this wouldn’t work?

  • spadestick

    Guaranteed basic income. This will solve the poverty-cycle problem, thus avoiding buildings like this. Vertical slums are the bigger problem. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vnB16E36EQ

    • Concerned Citizen

      A large portion of America does receive free cash, and they still prefer the slums.

      • spadestick

        Umm… no, you apparently don’t understand what this is. It’s not welfare, social security, “the dole” or benefits. Watch the video.

        • Concerned Citizen

          Ummm free cash is the definition of welfare handouts

  • Chris Neale

    Jenga anyone?

  • Reflects a shallow understanding of urban informal settlements and the complexities therein. ‘Social design’ in its most egregious, self-serving form.

  • Gabe Wong

    I REALLY want to live in a container apartment, said no one… ever.

  • At some point, the whole concept of using ‘containers’ gets lost.

  • Slumdog

    I’m not against slums, but I’m against the poor living conditions in slums. Slums are a very natural way of developing for cities; it results in interesting street patterns and colourful neighbourhoods. Because of the fact that houses in slums are habitant-made, the houses answer to the needs and desires of the people who live in it.

    In developed countries, there is a lot of criticism on our boring neighbourhoods, for example the suburbs in the USA and the flats in China, where you can see the results of planning houses. On the other side, living in slums is horrible, because of the lack of sewage, electricity and drinking water, things that would be provided if these neighbourhoods were planned by local governments.

    In my opinion, the solution for slums worldwide is developing them instead of demolishing. If they are given building materials, a lot of slum inhabitants are willing and able to invest time in developing their homes, something I’ve seen in Romania. (Yes, there are slums in Europe). Slums will also be developed without the help and money from local governments, but with worse building materials, often found on garbage dumps. If we would help the slum inhabitants develop their houses and neighbourhoods, slums can become hotspots of art, culture and sports, and the most amazing places to live in.

    • Scott Bergquist

      So by simply giving out materials, a meritocracy will develop, and people with skills will have a better situation than people with anaemic building skills?

      It will still be a mess, a more convoluted mess. Mexico City has plenty of illegal electricity setups, and those slums are not “fun”. High rises and shipping containers are not the answer, either.

      Just because high-rise apartment buildings have been unsuccessful as low-cost housing, and some even torn down, doesn’t mean that the concept is wrong. It simply needs more creativity. But, NOT shipping containers!

      • Slumdog

        I’ve been to a slum and it’s a very shocking experience. Life in a slum is horrible. And I said that if we develop slums, they can become nice places, not that they already are nice places.

  • mutarq
  • Sam

    You realise “slum” economies happen in the streets… outside of the homes where the people in the “slum live. So by building vertically, you are taking away the livelihoods of the majority of the people who live in the “slum” because you are destroying the one economy they actually have command over, thus perpetuating and worsening “slum-like” conditions.

  • bemyguest2

    Wait a second… Who forgot the trees? We need trees on skyscrapers. Back to the drawing board.

  • lapopessa

    Guess we haven’t learned the lessons of Cabrini-Greens (Chicago) and similar projects in NYC. Housing is only a small part of it. Unless they’re going to work with the people to improve their lives, those containers will just be the same thing, only tall.

  • slumdog

    A slum is a place where people have built their own house. There is nobody on earth who wants his own house to be demolished.

  • xxxx

    Pretty complicated. If they can put this thing up, it would be a technical achievement.

  • Quadri Bakare

    Great idea, just needs more thought.